Today in the Premier League

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The midfielder Fran Merida has joined Real Sociedad on loan after passing a medical with the Spanish second division club yesterday. The 17-year-old joined the Gunners in summer 2006 and made his first-team debut in the Carling Cup victory against Newcastle last September.

Aston Villa

Scott Carson believes his fellow Premier League goalkeepers are suffering from the increased quality of the league's strikers. "I think the amount of goals this season is down to the quality of the attacking play," the England international said. "It seems that strikers are scoring with every chance."

Birmingham City

Blues co-owner David Gold said he will back manager Alex McLeish with his own money in the transfer window. "We always said the money generated by the football club can be spent by the football club," Gold said. "If there is someone special we will look at them on a case-by-case basis."

Blackburn Rovers

The club are willing to let Swiss international Stéphane Henchoz leave Ewood Park, with Fulham a possible destination. The former Liverpool defender has failed to start regularly under Rovers manager Mark Hughes, making just 16 appearances in the last 18 months.

Bolton Wanderers

The Trotters manager Gary Megson is reportedly interested in the Icelandic full-back Gretar Steinsson. Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has also been linked with the AZ Alkmaar defender in recent weeks. "Hopefully Bolton are prepared to continue talks," the player's agent Jerry de Koning said.


The Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba believes the club can compensate for his departure for the African Nations' Cup. "I don't think my absence should really affect our chances," the striker said. "Although I would have loved to be a part of the team now." Drogba could miss four weeks of action as he represents his country.

Derby County

The new signing Emanuel "Tito" Villa said the former Rams defender Horacio Carbonari helped persuade him to move to Pride Park. "Horacio said many good things about the club," the £2m Argentine said. "So that is one of the reasons why I decided to come here."


The Toffees forward Yakubu Ayegbeni said he is confident the club can beat Chelsea and reach the Carling Cup final in his absence, as he travels to Ghana to represent Nigeria in the African Nations Cup. "I'll be watching on television and praying for them to do well," the 25 year-old said.


The Australia international Mark Bresciano has dismissed reports linking him with a move to the Cottagers, amid claims he is looking to leave Serie A club Palermo. "The talk of presumed interest in me from the part of Fulham in England is lacking any foundation," the 27-year-old said.


The club hope to announce revised plans over the new stadium within the next fortnight, following talks between Tom Hicks and two architectural firms in New York. "We made excellent progress," Hicks said. "And hope to have a final decision in the next two weeks."

Manchester City

The club will wear a special kit when they face Manchester United next month, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air disaster. "Both Thomas Cook and Le Coq Sportif offered to remove branding from the shirts," Blues spokesman Paul Tyrrell said.

Manchester United

The midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo has stressed the importance to the team of a fit Wayne Rooney. "We have a strong season ahead of us, so it is important Wayne is ready along with all the other players as well." the Portuguese international said. "Everyone knows Wayne is a good player."


Defender Emanuel Pogatetz said the club will not underestimate Mansfield ahead of the televised FA Cup Fourth Round meeting on 26 January. "I expect it to be a hard game," he said. "It always is in the Cup, especially when you go to sides below you. You never know what to expect."

Newcastle United

The striker Shola Ameobi has been linked with a move to Middlesbrough after failing to make a first-team appearance following his recovery from a hip operation. Meanwhile, the Hungarian under-19 international Tamas Zadar has been linked with a move to the club.


Manager Gary Megson fears disappointment in his attempts to bring Matt Taylor to the Reebok Stadium. "I spoke to Harry [Redknapp] last week about being able to speak to the lad," he said. "But we haven't had an opportunity. H is trying to bring in players and is reluctant to let Matty go."


Royals director of football Nick Hammond has dismissed stories linking Stephen Hunt with a move to Sunderland. "He is our player and he's done exceptionally well with us," Hammond said. "I fully expect all our players to stay. No-one will be leaving unless it suits Reading."


Black Cats manager Roy Keane said the club will look for experienced players during the transfer window to help pull clear of the relegation zone. "We have got to get the right people in with the right mentality who will take the club to the next stage," the Irishman said.

Tottenham Hotspur

Toulouse have confirmed reports that they have been contacted by the North London club about the 26-year-old Sweden striker Johan Elmander. "Besides Real Madrid," a Toulouse spokesperson said. "Premier League clubs Manchester City and Tottenham have expressed interest.

West Ham United

Former Hammers full-back Alvin Martin has urged England manager Fabio Capello to call Matthew Upson into his first squad later this month. "I think Matt has showed already this season his ability to carry out the basic duties of a defender," Martin said. "There is the opportunity to shine and Matty can take advantage."

Wigan Athletic

The club is waiting on the fitness of Ryan Taylor and Antoine Sibierski, after both picked up injuries against Sunderland last week. "Injuries are always a big concern," manager Steve Bruce said ahead of the match at Derby on Saturday. "These are two we could have done without. It's a case of seeing how they are over the next two days,"